Saturday, 29 June 2013
The Glorious Revolution
(Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy, New York, 2012, p. 220)
Potentially, Patel's declaration has two resonances for present day British subjects. First, Patel's name makes him sound like one of our Muslim neighbors, I mean right here on this street! Or maybe also like the owner of an Asian grocery shop.
Secondly, our present British Constitution enshrines the revolutionary settlement resulting from the Glorious Revolution, so called, of 1688, when the King and his heirs were appointed by Parliament, not by divine right. If we see it that way, then we can still, like the French and Americans, experience the exhilaration of living in the aftermath of a revolution that was successful and that changed society from that time onwards. The British Establishment does not want us to dwell on that particular lesson from history.
Back to the Patel in the Terran Empire. His problem is that, when a revolution has been successful, it is not only permissible but obligatory to declare that it was both glorious and necessary but what is to be said about the next attempted revolution (Cairncross) or the one after that (Magnusson)? In an age when unresolved social contradictions tend to generate revolution after revolution, then Flandry's answer seems to be unavoidable: Hans was the least bad contender after the old dynasty had broken down but now there must be an end to seizures of power.